Monday, August 13, 2007

I Left New York

There are things I love about New York, but it is obviously not enough to still live there; as much as I miss my family, friends and a good sausage pizza, nothing would get me to move back. I am a Long Island native, so my view of the very large state is limited to the region I’m from. While simple to express the things you like about a place, it is extremely difficult to write the negatives. This list is not intended to offend but to enlighten those who cannot fathom why I became a New York transplant, moving the moment I turned 18. Leaving those you love behind to search for a better life is the hardest thing I ever had to do, but here are the top 10 reasons I had to leave NY:

Traffic: “They” say that by the year 2012, New York will experience rush hour like gridlock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Imagine never knowing how long your drive is going to take because there is always traffic. Expect blood-pressure related deaths and road rage to skyrocket. Every time I drive on the Belt Parkway, I experience an overwhelming desire to ram into the line of cars in front of me and cannot imagine sitting in that kind of traffic to go to work everyday.

Expense: Houses, taxes, cars and groceries; all of life’s basics are so expensive it is hard for even the most successful person to make ends meet. It is not unusual for people to live with their parents well into their 30s, even if they are married with children, just to save enough to get a place of their own. This is unheard of in most other places in the United States. The American Dream is defined by some dictionaries as “the widespread aspirations of Americans to live better lives then their parents did.” Long Island’s out of control real estate market meant my American Dream needed to move to another city. Additionally, there are very few free options for fun and entertainment. Where many places have free museums, parks and gardens open to the public, free outdoor concerts and plenty of options for those who cannot afford good entertainment, New York nickel and dimes their residents, leaving fun to the elite who can afford it.

Rudeness: There is a fine line between assertive honesty and pushy obnoxiousness. New Yorkers not only cross the line, they almost take pride in their ability to catapult themselves over the line to pure offensiveness. In our world of political correctness the honesty is sometimes refreshing, but sometimes it is very important to pick your battles rather then be rude over every little thing people do. While it is perfectly acceptable to blow your horn and give a guy who cuts you off the finger, telling a 90 year old lady off at Waldbaum’s for having 13 items in the 10 item lane or taking a call at the movie theatre is completely rude and unnecessary.

Dog Unfriendliness: The Pet industry is the second fastest growing industry in the United States with over $41 Billion in sales last year. While most towns and cities in the United States are becoming increasingly dog friendly to align with this growth, Long Island seems to be decreasing the options available to dogs and their owners. State beaches were once a place where dogs could run and play October through April. Now they are completely off-limits to our four-legged friends. Fenced parks for off-leashing dogs are popping up across the nation yet they are not to be found in New York outside of a few tiny parks within the city limits. After experiencing the joy of seeing my dogs running freely over acres of fenced land, swimming in lakes and rivers and falling down exhausted afterwards, how could I possibly live someplace without an extensive network of dog parks?

Xenophobia: New York is often referred to as the center of the world, and no one buys into that more then a New Yorker. While most outside of the state think New Yorkers are incredibly worldly individuals and New York the hotbed of cultural diversity, for the most part, New Yorkers really have a very narrow view of the world and think they are culturally diverse simply because they have a wide variety of ethnic cuisines available to them. Many people from New York stay close to home, go to a local college, marry someone from the area they grew up in, send their kids to same school they went to and expect their children to follow the same patterns. Some of this is cultural, with many coming from traditional Southern European or Catholic families who expect their children to remain close to the nest. Economics is also a factor, as the exorbitant cost of living in New York prohibits people from experiencing other parts of the world through travel. The end result is a large number of people who somehow look down upon people from different places even if they have never experienced those places themselves.

Chauvinism: Machismo, the exaggerated sense of masculinity where men display attributes like aggressiveness and domination of women, oozes from the pores of far too many men on Long Island. Men spend time prepping and preening with hair gel and gold chains to look good for when they get into stupid fights with other men to display how strong and tough they are; and this actually impresses some women. When men capture the attention they are often sweet and romantic for a short time until showing their real feathers and begin exhibiting their sexist and prejudiced views of females, acting like they have a god given superiority over women. This attitude is perpetuated through the generations mostly by women who raise sons to believe they are god’s gift to the world and no woman is good enough for their son.

Divas: What do Lindsay Lohan, Mariah Carey, Rosie O’Donnell, Taylor Dane, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Howard Stern and Flava Flav have in common? They are all divas from Long Island. There are many definitions for Diva, but most agree it is a person who is self-centered, vain, arrogant, high-maintenance, moody, difficulty, demanding, confrontational, and overly dramatic. Long Island is like a Diva factory. There is tremendous pressure to look like you came off of the cover of In Style magazine. If your hair, nails, makeup, clothes and body are not impeccable you will certainly be a hot topic of conversation among the ladies at the local nail salon. Although many women are intelligent and well read, the obsession with looks dominates conversation, and most discussions are void of real ideas and content, making women sound completely vacuous. Additionally the pressure to be toothpick thin is higher in New York then in most other cities (except Los Angeles I would imagine) and I know many New Yorkers who suffered with eating disorders at one time or another. How anyone has the time, money or patience to keep their looks and wardrobes up with the Jolie-Pitt’s is amazing.

Drama: Unfortunately the passion and zeal of New Yorkers that I love so much yields an awful side effect; drama. Mix the chauvinists and the divas; add a small misunderstanding and next thing you know there are couples and families screaming, fighting, crying and tossing belongings out second floor bedroom windows declaring the person is "dead to them" or "their life is over." It is no surprise that there are so many actors and actresses that are New York and Long Island natives, with drama in your everyday life, it is easy to get all the training you need for the silver screen.

Crime: Although violent crime rates have declined since the 70s, "small" crime is still significantly higher then in many other locations in the United States. Most people I know in NY have been the victim of some crime; car theft, home burglary, vandalism or assault. Long Island could be the only place where crime can be perceived as embraced as demonstrated by the somewhat successful reality TV show about a famous organized crime family who lives on Long Island; Bringing Up Gotti. Now New Yorkers have to deal with a different type of crime; terrorism. The treat of the next terrorist attack looms over the head of every New Yorker and everyone knows it is not a matter of if there is going to be another attack, but when.

Difficulty: Everything is just so hard. It is grueling to get from one place to another, challenging to make ends meet, difficult dealing with threats and crime, demanding staying on top of fashion and trends, and tough to handle the stress that this all brings. Just leaving Long Island will lower your blood pressure. Life is hard everywhere, but in New York it is often impossible and unbearable. People often complain about how hard it is to live in New York but no one ever really leaves. Guess they like the pizza too much.

"I hated Long Island and I had to get out." - Peggy Lipton, actress


NeeNee said...

pffffttt...I puffy heart NY. I totally understand everything you said. While everyone tells my I am lucky I go "against" traffic driving east to work and west home I still hit traffic.

I probably can't afford a home for lets say 10 years. Paying Rent here is ridiculous, which is why I left LI and moved to Queens.

But I would miss it too much here. I love the attitudes, maybe cause I am sassy myself. While moving out of NY would be the ideal, I would really miss it. So as my 14 year old cousins tell me, Loves iT!

Steve said...

I do have a major soft spot in my heart for New York. When you are surrounded by Minnesota nice, some bluntness is actually a refreshing change. I think New yorkers are friendlier than the sterotype would indicate. When my son and I went to Yankee Stadium, we had a ball chewing the fat with "The Bleacher Creatures" in left-center field. My mom's second husband was New York Italian-his family was from the Bronx and Yonkers. I remember the first time I ever heard a woman drop an F-bomb, it was at one of his relative's houses. I was about 9 at the time:"Mom! Did you hear what she just said?!" "SSSH!", my mom hissed. "But mom! She said..."" Be quiet!", -"But mom!" "SSSSSH"

husband said...

Don't get Chelle wrong, she puffy hearts NY too... but as even neenee admits... it's damn hard to live there. It's a great place to visit b/c you don't mind it being so tough when you on vacation, but a backed up BQE when you really need to get home can really suck. I am so glad my inlaws live there so I can experience the good and the bad it has to offer. I don't know if I could hack it, but I'm glad I won't have to die trying. :-)